NRL Round 1 Preview and Tips



($1.70) Sth. Sydney Rabbitohs v Sydney Roosters ($2.20)

Thursday, March 7, 8:05pm (EDT), Allianz Stadium

RABBITOHS: Greg Inglis, Nathan Merritt, Dylan Farrell, Beau Champion, Andrew Everingham, John Sutton, Adam Reynolds, Sam Burgess, Issac Luke, Roy Asotasi, Chris McQueen, Ben Te’o, Ben Lowe. Interchange: Nathan Peats, Michael Crocker, Jeff Lima, George Burgess, David Tyrrell, Jason Clark, Bryson Goodwin.

ROOSTERS: Anthony Minichiello, Daniel Tupou, Michael Jennings, Shaun Kenny-Dowall, Roger Tuivasa-Sheck, James Maloney, Mitchell Pearce, Jared Waerea-Hargreaves, Jake Friend, Sam Moa, Aidan Guerra, Mitch Aubusson, Frank-Paul Nuuausala. Interchange: Daniel Mortimer, Martin Kennedy, Sonny Bill Williams, Luke O’Donnell, Boyd Cordner, Michael Oldfield, Tinirau Arona.

The season opener for 2013 has two traditional rivals kicking off proceedings in Thursday Night Football.

Of course at this time of the year all teams have plenty of improving to do but the Rabbitohs to me looked very well drilled in their Charity Shield match against the Dragons two weeks ago which fills me with confidence.

The Roosters are fielding an impressive side on paper which includes the much talked about Sonny Bill Williams who will play off the bench. There was some doubt as to whether or not he would play at all thanks to a nagging pectoral injury and reports would suggest that he won’t quite be at 100% fitness for this one.

I have a best bet available at See below.

Mike’s Tip: Rabbitohs

Mike’s Suggested Bet: First to 10 points: Rabbitohs @ $1.77 (Centrebet)

Mike’s Best Bet:

($1.62) Brisbane Broncos v Manly Sea Eagles ($2.30)

Friday, March 8, 8:05pm (EDT), Suncorp Stadium

BRONCOS: Corey Norman, Josh Hoffman, Jack Reed, Justin Hodges, Lachlan Maranta, Scott Prince, Peter Wallace, Josh McGuire, Andrew McCullough, Sam Thaiday (c), Alex Glenn, Matt Gillett, Corey Parker. Interchange: Ben Hunt, Ben Hannant, Mitchell Dodds, David Stagg, Scott Anderson.

SEA EAGLES: Brett Stewart, Jorge Taufua, Jamie Lyon, Steve Matai, David Williams, Kieran Foran, Daly Cherry-Evans, Brenton Lawrence, Matt Ballin, Brent Kite, Anthony Watmough, Justin Horo, Jamie Buhrer. Interchange: Richie Fa’aoso, Joe Galuvao, David Gower, Jesse Sene-Lefao, Peta Hiku, George Rose.

Scott Prince returns to the Broncos 10 years after he left the club and Coach Anthony Griffin clearly has faith in his man, throwing him into five-eighth for their opening match against 2012 preliminary finalists the Sea Eagles. Corey Norman moves to fullback in place of the departed Beale (Dragons) and otherwise it’s a very similar line up to that of the one that made a great start to 2012 before the representative season ground them to a halt.
It’s always an unenviable assignment travelling interstate in the first round and the Sea Eagles have to attempt to complete it successfully without perennial workhorse Glen Stewart who underwent sugery in the off season.

This should be a fairly close game with plenty of tries to come once the big forwards begin to tire. Comparing the interchange players in both sides has me leaning towards the Broncos.

Mike’s Tip: Broncos

Mike’s Suggested Bet: Broncos Head 2 Head @ $1.62 (Sportsbet)

Mike’s Best Bet: None

($1.70) Parramatta Eels v NZ Warriors ($2.20)

Saturday, March 9, 5:30pm (EDT), Parramatta Stadium

EELS: Jarryd Hayne, Ken Sio, Ryan Morgan, Jacob Loko, Cheyse Blair, Luke Kelly, Chris Sandow, Darcy Lussick, Matt Keating, Tim Mannah, Reni Maitua, Ben Smith, Joseph Paulo. Interchange: Ben Roberts, Fuifui Moimoi, Mitchell Allgood, Matt Ryan.

WARRIORS: Kevin Locke, Glen Fisiiahi, Dane Nielsen, Konrad Hurrell, Manu Vatuvei, Thomas Leuluai, Shaun Johnson, Sam Rapira, Elijah Taylor, Ben Matulino, Feleti Mateo, Simon Mannering (C), Todd Lowrie. Interchange: Ben Henry, Jacob Lillyman, Sebastine Ikahihifo, Pita Godinet, Steve Rapira, Charlie Gubb.

Times have changed once again at Parramatta with Stephen Kearney having been shown the exit door to make room for new coach Ricky Stuart. The former Sharks, Roosters, NSW and Kangaroos coach always manages to polarise opinions as to his coaching abilities, but Stuart is not one to read into outside criticism and whether he is able or not, he commits 100% to his team. Regardless of the public’s thoughts on Stuart, the majority will be happy that he has named Jarryd Hayne at fullback. Hopefully for the jaded, yet ever hopeful Eels fans, Stuart will be able to get the most out of halfback Chris Sandow who underachieved for a good portion of the 2012 season.

The Warriors similarly move into 2013 with a coach (Matthew Elliott) of dubious popularity who has to turn around some lacklustre performances from 2012 in order to have any hope of success this year. Elliott has opted for Thomas Leuluai at five-eighth to partner Shaun Johnson in the halves and it will be a combination to keep an eye on in coming weeks to see what kind of rewards it will reap.

Mike’s Tip: Eels

Mike’s Suggested Bet: None

Mike’s Best Bet: None

($1.97) Canterbury Bulldogs v North Queensland Cowboys ($1.85)

Saturday, March 9, 7:30pm (EDT), Bluetongue Stadium

BULLDOGS: Steve Turner, Drury Low, Josh Morris, Krisnan Inu, Sam Perrett, Josh Reynolds, Kris Keating, Aiden Tolman, Michael Ennis (c), Martin Taupau, Tony Williams, Josh Jackson, Greg Eastwood. Interchange: Dene Halatau, Dale Finucane, Tim Browne, David Klemmer, Mitch Brown.

COWBOYS: Matthew Bowen, Ashley Graham, Brent Tate, Kane Linnett, Antonio Winterstein, Johnathan Thurston, Ray Thompson, Matt Scott, Scott Moore, James Tamou, Gavin Cooper, Glenn Hall, Dallas Johnson. Interchange: Rory Kostjasyn, Ashton Sims, Tariq Sims, Jason Taumalolo, Scott Bolton, Robert Lui.

The obvious absence in this game is Ben Barba who at first it seemed Coach Des Hasler was to replace at fullback with young Drury Low. But now Steve Turner has been named fullback and Low has moved to the wing instead. Other absences for the Bulldogs include Frank Pritchard, Sam Kasiano and the now infamous James Graham. Tony Williams comes into the side from the Sea Eagles and on glimpses of his efforts in trial matches he looks like he is champing at the bit to play NRL.

As for teams being ready to go for 2013, none are more ready than the Cowboys and barring some major injuries, they have a side which would be asking serious questions of themselves if they don’t make the finals. Now is a good time to come up against the Bulldogs with the aforementioned players out of the side, and yes Des Hasler will have the rest of his men ready for anything, but the Cowboys forward pack will get on top of the short staffed Bulldogs pack and that’s where the war will be won.

Mike’s Tip: Cowboys

Mike’s Suggested Bet: North Qld Head to Head @ $1.85 (Centrebet)

Mike’s Best Bet: None

($1.91) Penrith Panthers v Canberra Raiders ($1.91)

Sunday, March 10, 2pm (EDT), Centrebet Stadium

PANTHERS: Dean Whare, Josh Mansour, Wes Naiqama, Brad Tighe, David Simmons, Lachlan Coote, Luke Walsh, Sam McKendry, Kevin Kingston, Tim Grant, Sika Manu, Lewis Brown, Nathan Smith. Interchange: James Segeyaro, Nigel Plum, Clint Newton, Jeremy Latimore, Adam Docker.

RAIDERS: Reece Robinson, Sandor Earl, Jack Wighton, Blake Ferguson, Edrick Lee, Josh McCrone, Sam Williams, David Shillington, Shaun Berrigan, Dane Tilse, Josh Papalii, Joel Thompson, Shaun Fensom. Interchange: Matt McIlwrick, Joel Edwards, Mark Nicholls, Tom Learoyd-Lahrs, Brett White.

At this point in time Raiders will oppose the Panthers without Josh Dugan, Jarrod Croker and Terry Campese; All vital players in the Canberra unit although Dugan and Croker have still been rated as a chance and will be given until game day to see whether they are right to play.
The Panthers had a season to forget in 2012 and one would only think that things could be worse in 2013 without the likes of Luke Lewis, Michael Gordon and Michael Jennings who have all left the club. Time will tell with the Panthers but I’m happy to tip them if the Raiders end up playing without three of their best points scorers.

Mike’s Tip: Panthers

Mike’s Suggested Bet: Panthers Head to Head @ $1.91 (Centrebet)

Mike’s Best Bet: None

($1.26) Melbourne Storm v St George Illawarra Dragons ($3.95)

Sunday, March 10, 3pm (EDT), AAMI Park


STORM: Billy Slater, Matt Duffie, Will Chambers, Justin O’Neill, Mahe Fonua, Gareth Widdop, Cooper Cronk, Jesse Bromwich, Cameron Smith, Bryan Norrie, Tohu Harris, Ryan Hoffman, Ryan Hinchcliffe. Interchange: Jason Ryles, Lagi Setu, Siosaia Vave, Junior Moors, Brett Finch


DRAGONS: Gerard Beale, Brett Morris, Chase Stanley, Matt Cooper, Jason Nightingale, Jamie Soward, Nathan Fien, Dan Hunt, Mitch Rein, Michael Weyman, Tyson Frizell, Ben Creagh (c), Trent Merrin. Interchange: Bronson Harrison, Leeson Ah Mau, Matt Prior, Cameron King, Jack Stockwell


Both Melbourne and St.George-Illawarra got a solid hit out under their belts in the off season. The Dragons had their Charity Shield match up against the Rabbitohs whilst the Storm were successful in winning the World Club Challenge in the UK.

Based on those performances, the Storm looked a more fluent side and the Dragons showed that there is plenty more work to be done on even the most basic of drills.

It’s only Round 1 and even with a side as lethal as the Storm I don’t expect a high scoring match. Traditionally these two teams keep it close and low scoring, not only in round 1 matches but against each other. I expect the Storm to get the job done and hit the cruise control towards the later stages of the game.


Mike’s Tip: Storm

Mike’s Suggested Bet: Take the unders in the ‘Over/Unders betting’ or for something a bit safer opt for the Storm/Storm double in Halftime/Fulltime betting.

Mike’s Best Bet: None


($1.60) Cronulla Sharks v Gold Coast Titans ($2.25)

Sunday, March 10, 6:30pm (EDT), Sharks Stadium


SHARKS: Michael Gordon, Jonathan Wright, Ricky Leutele, Matthew Wright, Beau Ryan, Todd Carney, Jeff Robson, Andrew Fifita, Isaac De Gois, Ben Ross, Luke Lewis, Wade Graham, Paul Gallen. Interchange: Chris Heighington, Jon Green, John Morris, Anthony Tupou, Jayson Bukuya, Mark Taufua, Chad Townsend.


TITANS: William Zillman, Kevin Gordon, Brad Takairangi, Jamal Idris, David Mead, Aidan Sezer, Albert Kelly, Luke Douglas, Matt Srama, Nate Myles, Greg Bird, Ben Ridge, Ashley Harrison. Interchange: Dave Taylor, Luke Bailey, Ryan James, Beau Falloon, Luke O’Dwyer.


I’m sure I’ll be forgiven for not suggesting any bets for this game following the controversy that has arisen around the Cronulla Sharks this week. The Sharks opened at $1.45 before betting was suspended by bookmakers after it was revealed that there would be a possibility of up to 14 players at the Sharks being suspended for 6 months due to findings from ASADA about possible drug use in the club. Betfair kept their market open and I watched the Sharks blow out to $1.95 and outsider status yesterday. Today the bookies reinstated a somewhat tentative market that now has the Sharks as $1.60 favourites.

I, like many others are still unsure of what is to come and there is no chance I’ll be putting my wallet anywhere near this match. Watch this space.


Mike’s Tip: Titans

Mike’s Suggested Bet: None

Mike’s Best Bet: None



($1.46) Newcastle Knights v Wests Tigers ($2.75)

Monday, March 11, 7pm (EDT), Hunter Stadium


KNIGHTS: Darius Boyd, James McManus, Dane Gagai, Anthony Quinn, Akuila Uate, Jarrod Mullen, Kurt Gidley, Kade Snowden, Travis Waddell, Willie Mason, Beau Scott, Chris Houston, Jeremy Smith. Interchange: Tyrone Roberts, Neville Costigan, Robbie Rochow, Alex McKinnon, David Fa’alogo.


TIGERS: Tim Moltzen, Matt Utai, Blake Ayshford, Chris Lawrence, Marika Koroibete, Benji Marshall, Jacob Miller, Jack Buchanan, Robbie Farah, Keith Galloway, Braith Anasta, Liam Fulton, Adam Blair. Interchange: Matt Bell, Ben Murdoch-Masila, Bodene Thompson, Eddy Pettybourne, Joel Reddy, Aaron Woods.


The Knights are turning out to be one of the more fancied tips amongst NRL punters in round 1and the markets reflect that with the Knights at $1.46, in from $1.52 earlier in the week. The return of Kurt Gidley is an obvious boost for Newcastle who have lost four of their last 5 games against the Tigers.

The Tigers barely have a backer in preseason betting but being unfancied would be exactly how big name players like Benji Marshall and Robbie Farah would like it.

With both teams arriving in 2013 off the back of seasons that lacked spark in attack I think it’s faor to tip a close game here, but otherwise I’ll keep my money away from it.


Mike’s Tip: Knights

Mike’s Suggested Bet: Take the ‘Under’ option in Under/Over betting. For the ‘funsters’ have a shot at the ‘any other result’ option in Halftime/Fulltime betting.

Mike’s Best Bet: None


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